Michelle Steinhart
Coldwell Banker Realty






Several Municipalities and Sewer Districts in Marin County have recently enacted point-of sale requirements with regard to private sewer laterals. What exactly is a sewer lateral? It is the sewer line that connects your home to the public sewer line and it is your responsibility as a homeowner to maintain it. The current infrastructure is aging and many of the old clay pipes are in dire need of replacement. As the main sewer lines and laterals age, they develop leaks, and become clogged and cracked by roots. This leads to sewage spills and overflows. During wet weather, storm water enters through those cracks and breaks, increasing flows in sewer pipes. This causes additional spills and an overloading of the water treatment process. The resulting overloading can threaten public health and has, at times, contaminated San Francisco Bay and its tributaries.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, it is imperative that you have your sewer lateral line inspected. If your sewer lateral is more than 20 years old, it often must also pass a pressure test. Each municipality has enacted its own ordinance regarding testing and repair. Several municipalities also offer a rebate to the homeowner. Check with your municipality (phone numbers listed below) to learn about the district guidelines and what options are available to you.  This link will take you to the latest information on sewer laterals in your area: Sanitary District Maps

CITY OF BELVEDERE (415) 435-3838

In the City of Belvedere, prior to the sale or exchange of any residential building or residential lot, the owner or agent must obtain from the city, a report of the residential building record from the City. As part of the application for a residential building records report, the owner shall provide the City of Belvedere public works superintendent with a current videotaped report of the entire sanitary sewer lateral serving the building. The report shall include at least a written and graphic description of the sewer lateral as well as a compact disc containing photographs of any notable features of the sewer lateral. Based on the information contained in the report, the City of Belvedere may require repair or modification of the sewer lateral.


Neighborhoods and Municipalities: Bon Air, Town of Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Kent Woodlands, City of Larkspur, Oak Manor, Town of Ross, Town of San Anselmo, and Sleepy Hollow

Ordinance 66 of the Ross Valley Sanitary District code requires testing (and possible repair and replacement) of virtually all private sewer laterals at either a) the time of sale of the property; or b) remodel projects in excess of $75,000 or remodel projects which add a bathroom. RVSD may offer a rebate for repairs.


This district services Belvedere and parts of Tiburon east of Gilmartin Drive.

Inspection videos conducted by a Licensed Contractor must be submitted to the District Engineer prior to the transfer of title. The District will then determine if the lateral requires repairs or a full replacement and issue a Notice of Repair. Items listed in the Notice of Repair will be given a 6-month timeframe for completion. The intent of the District is to allow the repairs to be negotiated between buyer and seller without getting involved in the escrow process. In other words, repairs may be completed outside the escrow process.

CITY OF SAUSALITO (415) 289-4192

Section 18.12.100 of the Sausalito Municipal Code provides that where remodeling or sale of any building is proposed, existing sewer service laterals shall be inspected for surface water connections or inlets, and shall be either pressure tested for leakage or inspected by video camera. Service laterals found to be in a deteriorated condition shall be replaced, repaired or rehabilitated as necessary to eliminate infiltration and inflow of ground and surface waters. Service laterals shall be re-tested for leakage or re-inspected by video camera upon completion of any remedial work, and shall be approved by the City Engineer prior to transfer of title or approval of the building permit. If the property offered for sale is located in Sausalito, then both Seller and Buyer are advised to contact the City of Sausalito to determine the application of this ordinance to a proposed sale of that property.


Areas include: City of Mill Valley, parts of the City of Larkspur in the Richardson Bay Sanitary District, and incorporated Marin County in the Almonte Sanitary District, Alto Sanitary District, Homestead Valley Sanitary District, Tamalpais Community Service District (portion of Kay Park.

City of Mill Valley (415) 388-2402

Almonte Sanitary District (415) 388-8775

Alto Sanitary District (415) 388-3696

Richardson Bay Sanitary District (415) 388-1345

Tamalpais Community Service District (415) 388-6393

The Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin has enacted a Model Ordinance, which was adopted by all of the member agencies enumerated above, establishing a sewer lateral program whereby the private sewer laterals of homes listed for sale must be inspected with a CCTV camera by certified contractor. The video inspection report must be submitted to the respective district engineers, or their designee, for a determination of repair or replacement of the sewer lateral. The ordinance applies if you are buying or selling a home or remodeling in excess of $50,000.